I decided to hold off and give EA the chance to address a number of issues which made FIFA 22 almost impossible for me to play and enjoy on release. Now the game has received its first major patch we can truly assess this year’s release.
Somewhat astonishingly this is now the 29th instalment of a game I have played since the very first release - FIFA International Soccer - back in 1993 (with David Platt on the cover).
The series has veered from generic to groundbreaking. From underdogs to champions.
Eventually it won the war with Pro Evolution Soccer, its licenses and gloss forcing Konami into submission as evidenced by this year’s name change to eFootball and making that once iconic, untouchable title free to play.
The first thing to note regarding FIFA 22 is the introduction of Hypermotion Technology, which uses motion capture data collected by putting 22 real-life players into high tech Xsens suits and making them play a complete, high-intensity football match.
The data collected from player movements, tackles, aerial duels and on-ball actions was later used to power the way both individuals and teams move across the pitch in FIFA 22. EA say this means FIFA can analyse real human motion in new levels of detail within a match situation, resulting in over 4,000 new football-informed animations being added to the game.
These new animations are used to power Full Team Authentic Motion, Kinetic Battles, Player Humanisation, Composed Ball Control, and more.
And while it sounds like the latest gimmick, it is genuinely noticeable when playing and the experience is much improved as a result.
There is another big change in that career mode now has the create-a-club option in manager career. Unlike previous titles, where players could only take control of an existing team, this year, players have the option to take to the pitch with a club built from scratch.
Players can customise the team's home and away kits, club crest and home stadium. Kits, crests, and base stadium can be changed at the beginning of each new season. EA also enhanced the player career mode, allowing the player's character to come off the substitutes bench and play matches.
I am an Online Seasons man when it comes to FIFA. And when I first fired it up it was essentially completely unplayable due to some of the worst gaming lag I have ever experienced. I have over 100mbps broadband (though not hard-wired) and never have any issues with onlinen gaming but I literally could not get through a match. Matchmaking settings were also a joke, pitting me against a clutch of the same elite teams over and over again when I did brave it and try to play another online Seasons match.
I am pleased to report these issues have been addressed and improved with the patch along with a host of other bug bears to long to mention in this review.
The usual favourite of many - Ultimate Team - is back with improvements and updates to some features of the gamemode. EA introduced FUT Heroes cards which have a unique league-specific chemistry tied to their specific hero moment, providing a green club link to any player within the same league as well as the usual nation link.
The full heroes card list includes: Mario Gómez, Tim Cahill, Ole Gunnar Solskjær, Jerzy Dudek, Joe Cole (which was broken initially and required the patch to fix it), Aleksandr Mostovoi, David Ginola, Iván Córdoba, Freddie Ljungberg, Jürgen Kohler, Lars Ricken, Antonio Di Natale, Clint Dempsey, Robbie Keane, Abedi Pelé, Jorge Campos, Fernando Morientes, Sami Al-Jaber and Diego Milito.
Players who feature in the team of the week will have their player card stats boosted based on their real life achievements to reflect the closeness of the game to real life football. In previous games, 22 Ones to Watch players have been available with a further six added in FIFA 22.
FIFA Icons featuring former stars are in the game, with more players being added to FIFA 22 such as Iker Casillas, Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Cafu. Players will also have the option to preview Silver and Gold player packs as in the previous game, by allowing players to preview what they would receive from a pack before deciding whether to purchase it.
Volta Football returns for those who like that kind of thing. You can now play with up to three others in various online mini game modes, which form part of the new VOLTA Arcade.
But how does it play? Well this is where I feel FIFA 22 comes into its own for the first time in a long time.
I have not got on with the last few FIFAs when it comes to gameplay. This is FIFA just how I like it, though. The pace of play is slower but much more responsive. Player attributes make a proper difference to how you play and carefully thought out play gets rewarded with shots, goalmouth action and goals. Speed has been a killer in FIFA games for as long as I can remember. And that ended up killing many peoples’s interest too. Yes modern football is a game for powerful, fast athletes. But not all top players are super quick speed freaks. And this game sees the balance of power shift back towards technical play over outright pace. It was needed and the game is all the better for it.
There is a huge sense of satisfaction to scoring in FIFA 22 and I can honestly say that has not been the case for many years. On the flip side defending - for the same reasons - is markedly improved making it both logical and rewarding too.
The graphics are excellent - although if you are a fan of teams outside the so-called elite then there is a clear disparity between the level of effort EA have gone to in replicating your heroes features. That is a minor gripe, though, in the grand scheme of things.
Because this is how I like my FIFA. Yes there have been some frankly unforgivable issues with online play given how well established this franchise is (why weren’t servers up to scratch and ready to roll on release?!).
But those core issues have been addressed and there is so much content to suit all tastes here it is difficult to justify any real grievances.
I played on PS5 and, unlike last year’s title, this truly feels like it is harnessing the new power of the next gen consoles.
This year’s FIFA is one of the best releases in the modern history of the series. New additions to Career Mode and Volta have made FIFA’s major modes more fun and while the controversial microtransactions still cast the usual shadow over things, this is the best FIFA I have played - post patch - for years.